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The Roar



Road to the Ashes: Not your average Joe

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Roar Guru
19th August, 2021

“No Stokes, no England” rang around social media when the English fell with the score on 120, the difference 151 and the series not evenly ledgered anymore.

Half an hour (8.1 overs) left on Day 5 saw James Anderson bowled by Mohammed Siraj, India grab a 1-0 lead and Joe Root’s mammoth 180 has gone by the wayside from a results point of view. However, as much as Joe Root has joined Tim Paine in the ‘out-captained’ club by Virat Kohli (and Ajinkya Rahane whose leadership flies under the radar) but he and Stokes are obviously the keys to England’s success and are the only consistent trouble the Aussies are going to be presented with.

Root has struck five centuries in 2021 already as we sit in the middle of August, sitting only behind Michael Vaughan and Denis Compton for most Test centuries in a calendar year and he will have three Ashes Tests as well as the final three against India to better those men and even if he hasn’t got a Test ton in Australia, such is his form that he probably surpasses it.

For the refresher, Root’s 180 took place across 321 balls at a strike rate just a tick above 56, with 18 fours (the rest of the England side in the first innings score of 391 struck 24 fours). The man is in such a rich vein of form, all he needs is one or a couple of teammates to come along for the ride but he is being bent over the proverbial. In the first innings, he scored 46 per cent of England’s runs and in his second innings knock of 33 produced 27.5 per cent of England’s dismal 120, for a grand percentage of 41.68 per cent of England’s total runs for the match.

If you take into account his 64 and 109 in the First Test, he’s hit 38.7 per cent of England’s runs for the series by himself.

In 2021, Joe Root has hit an extraordinary 1277 runs in 19 innings with five tons and an average of 67.21 and with six Tests to go in the year, he will probably get 12 innings and that 67 will produce another 804 runs to make his end of year total 2081 from 31 innings, which would help him override Mohammed Yousuf’s record of 1788 in 2006, albeit it only took the Pakistan legend 19 innings to hit his 1788 runs at an average of 99.33.


His 1277 puts him 200 behind his best return in 2016 but it’s the fall away from the most fragile thing in English history since their soccer fans: the other batsmen. With Joe Root’s 1277 in mind, I wonder what the next three highest scorers for England in Tests combined for? Surely it would leave Joe in the dust, surely. It’s 1074, 203 behind Root. Combined.

Joe Root celebrates a Test ton against India at Trent Bridge

(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

This little series is about the Ashes and this little tangent would make Pat Cummins, Josh Hazelwood, Mitchell Starc and potentially James Pattinson and Michael Neser very excited to rip through the Poms quickly but Root’s form deserves the respect of all fans and as much as we as Australians want to leave the Poms in the dust, we still want a fight and with Joe Root and Ben Stokes flying the English flag with five of the most out-of-form blokes to pick up a bat in many a time (Rory Burns and Dom Sibley are the first English opening pair to both duck in the same innings at Lords), the Aussies look home already.

The captaincy battle is going to be interesting, with both Tim Paine and Joe Root lamenting both of their captaincy styles against an Indian side who are the best appliers of pressure in Test Cricket in an extremely long time so when Paine and Root clash, who knows what’s going to happen?

If the Poms out there want more optimism, it’s pretty simple: play better cricket. The Aussies aren’t going to go unwritten either as we move on as the opinions on my own backyard are strong also. I cannot wait for this series.